Two new Checkers drive-in restaurants should be up and running in Wilmington by December, and Checkers has plans for more.
The chain was drawn to Delaware because of the low real estate costs and the reasonable rate for contractors, said John Palumbo, director of franchise development for Checkers. He said additional factors were the fact that quick-service restaurants are underrepresented in the New Castle County market and the existence of a corporate Checkers restaurant in Wilmington.
“We know that the market itself is very strong for Checkers because we have a corporate restaurant there,” Palumbo said.
Palumbo said it would cost about $500,000 to build a freestanding Checkers, plus the cost of the land. Initial investments for a franchise vary from $165,796 to $1.3 million, depending on whether the restaurant is modified from an existing building or built from the grass up. The initial franchise fee for a Checkers is $30,000, and franchisees pay an ongoing royalty fee of 4 percent and an advertising royalty fee of 4.5 percent.
Amrish Patel will turn the Colonial Bank at Fourth and Lincoln streets in Wilmington into a Checkers by November or December. Patel, who owns Tollgate Liquors on nearby Lancaster Avenue, said he’s putting more than $500,000 into the project because he believes there is a market for affordable food in that sector of the city but few franchises. “The way the economy is going, people are looking for low prices,” Patel said.
Hetal and Nelesh Christian are opening a Checkers at 1503 N. Du Pont Highway in New Castle in September or October. The couple both worked at Checkers in Philadelphia briefly more than 15 years ago. “We were familiar with the brand. We looked at other franchise restaurants, but I think Checkers made more sense. The brand is becoming very popular in Philadelphia,” Hetal Christian said.